A new fleet of presidential helicopters will be built by Lockheed Martin and its international partners, the Navy announced yesterday, ending a fierce competition that had both political and international implications.Show Me News
Saying the president "needs a more survivable helicopter while the nation engages in the global war on terrorism," John Young, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition, said Lockheed met all of the security and technology requirements at the best price.
The $6.1 billion program to buy 23 high-tech, high-security aircraft is emblematic of the outsourcing of U.S. jobs and the question of how open the U.S. military market is to foreign contractors.
Some members of Congress criticized the decision to put the U.S. president in an aircraft that will be made partially overseas.
"It is difficult to understand why we would use U.S. tax dollars to fund the further development of foreign helicopter technology," said House Armed Services Chairman Duncan Hunter, R-Calif.
But New York lawmakers hailed the decision, which will bring a new manufacturing plant to Owego, N.Y., and as many as 750 new jobs. And Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. said it was a testament to Lockheed’s business leadership.
"The US101 will provide the president of the United States with a state-of-the-art helicopter ... an Oval Office in the sky," said Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., who as first lady spent time in the current Marine One.
Update: comparison photos to current VH-3 Marine ONE
The new helo has one more engine and replaces an aircraft that first flew in 1959 and the new one is already a proven performer in the field.